The second European Service Module’s (ESM) flight model is well into the integration test phase as Airbus readies it for the initial Orion mission with astronauts – which will fly around the Moon and return to Earth.
Performed at Airbus Defence and Space’s facility in Bremen, Germany, the ESM-2’s validations already completed include gimbal testing of the module’s main engine (which swivels from side to side for manoeuvring and directional control during spaceflight). This main engine is a refurbished engine from Space Shuttle Atlantis to power humans back to the Moon.
The ESM is Europe’s contribution to the U.S.-developed Orion spacecraft for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), providing propulsion, power, water, oxygen, and nitrogen – as well as keeping it at the right temperature and on course during flight. Orion will open a new era in space exploration, taking astronauts to the Moon and beyond.